Literature Study GuidesThe Name Of The RoseFourth Day Lauds Sext Summary

The Name of the Rose | Study Guide

Umberto Eco

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The Name of the Rose | Fourth Day, Lauds–Sext | Summary



Fourth Day, Lauds

William of Baskerville, Adso of Melk, and Severinus of Sankt Wendel examine Berengar's corpse, and Severinus says "there's no doubt" he died by drowning, based on the body's physical signs. But when Severinus examines the hands, he notices two fingertips on Berengar's right hand are blackened, as if he had "handled some inks in the scriptorium." William notices fainter traces of ink on the left hand. The dark stain cannot be washed away, and Severinus states that many substances in his herbarium might have this effect on a person's skin. Severinus remembers that Venantius, too, had blackened fingers. Adso thinks they've found the solution, but William asserts the only thing they can hypothesize is that both Venantius and Berengar touched the same substance. William must figure out a way to scientifically test his hypothesis by finding evidence to support it.

Severinus enumerates the many substances in his herbarium that are dangerous when ingested, and William tells him, "You know many things about poisons." Upon further examination, the men note that Berengar's tongue is also black, indicating he got some of the poisonous substance on his tongue and that ingesting the poison killed him. Severinus remembers a deadly "foreign herb" a well-traveled monk had given him years ago and which he had hidden behind other substances. During a violent storm, many vials and containers of substances in the herbarium had been dashed to the floor and broken. Severinus wonders if the foreign substance had been destroyed in this way, although William points out that someone might have stolen it well before the storm struck. Severinus admits he'd used the secret part of the library to read books on necromancy (witchcraft, or communicating with the dead). Perhaps someone associated with the library stole the poison years ago. It was most likely a person with "a malignant mind brooding for a long time in darkness over a murderous plan."

Fourth Day, Prime

Malachi of Hildesheim comes to see Severinus, but he hurries away when he sees William and Adso. William and Adso leave to find monks who "roam about at night" because "interesting things happen at night" in the abbey. They come across Salvatore, and William scares him into confessing by reminding him that the Inquisition is scheduled to arrive at the abbey the next day. Salvatore admits to procuring impoverished girls from the village for Remigio. William and Adso find Remigio at the abbey granaries, where he's striking a bargain for trade in foodstuffs. William asks about the poor villagers and those who receive prebends (stipends) from the church. Remigio won't admit complicity in carnal relations with a village girl. But through a series of oblique hints, the cellarer refers to the rumors about Berengar being homosexual. Eventually, Remigio seems to admit to being "a poor man of flesh ... [who] succumb[s] to the lures of the flesh."

Remigio then tells William he knows when and where Venantius died. That night he entered the kitchen and, on the floor, saw Venantius, dead. The cellarer noticed a broken cup of liquid near the body, which William surmises contained the poison that killed Venantius. Remigio was terrified at finding the corpse, so he decided to say nothing and to leave it there for another to find and report. The cellarer was astounded when the swineherds found Venantius's body in the barrel of blood. William wonders if Malachi committed the murder because he has free access to the Aedificium. Remigio agitatedly disagrees, suggesting that William "keep an eye on Benno" instead.

Severinus bounds into the room holding the pair of eyeglasses that had been stolen from William. Immediately after, the glazier, Nicholas of Morimondo, runs up holding the new pair of eyeglasses he's just made for William, who now has two pairs.

Fourth Day, Terce

Adso cannot empty his mind of visions of human bodies, both dead (Berengar) and living (the village girl). Although on one hand he thinks the girl weak, on the other hand he sees her as "something splendid and wondrous." He sees the face of the girl in everything he looks at, which leads him to conclude that she, like all of creation, is part of God's great design. Adso begins seeing each creature as a perfect reflection of its Creator. However, Adso keenly feels the girl's absence.

William approaches Adso carrying the Greek part of Venantius's notes that he has just read using his new eyeglasses. The words, phrases, and sentences on the parchment seem like "the ravings of a madman." But William stresses that Venantius "went to great trouble, first to hide the book and then to recover it." William recognizes in the Greek "some sentences ... stolen from the finis Africae." For this reason, Venantius's fragmentary notes may lead to the hidden book and thus to the murderer. William cannot figure out the riddle of the notes. He explains that some books refer to other books. This makes Adso think of the library as a disturbing place where ancient texts are "murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another."

Fourth Day, Sext

Adso goes hunting for truffles with Severinus, and when they return the Friars Minor (Minorites) have arrived at the abbey for the meeting. William joins the Minorites for dinner, and the atmosphere is "like a council of war ... before the enemy host, namely the Avignon (papal) legation" arrives. Adso reviews the complicated religious and political history of the Friars Minor and particularly of Michael of Cesena, the minister general of the order. Michael is highly respected because his people view him as "the heir of Saint Francis." However, his is a difficult task: to preach poverty, to keep his order from fracturing into radical groups, and to "please the Pope, the Emperor, the Friars of the Poor Life, and Saint Francis." Michael needs the approval of both the pope and the emperor to ensure the safety and continuation of his order. The upcoming meeting will decide if Michael should heed the pope's summons to Avignon without giving the appearance of submission or defiance. Michael must walk a very fine line, indeed.

While they eat, the Minorites discuss what they should do. Hugh of Newcastle suggests that the former pope might have been murdered to make way for the new pope. He describes similar mischief among emperors and other secular leaders. Still, all present agree that the pope "cannot dispute [their] desire for poverty and [their] interpretation of the example of Christ." Other monks describe how greedy the pope is, which is why "he issued all those bulls (edicts) against the ideal of poverty." Brother Jerome tells how the pope uses fines to "squeeze out more money" from those who trespass against a religious rule. Jerome insists there's a new "constitution" being circulated in Avignon that would drastically alter Christian doctrine. Other monks at the table are skeptical, but Jerome insists such a project is secretly underway. The new doctrine proclaims that souls can't go to heaven or hell until after the last judgment. Adso tells the reader that only on his deathbed many years later will the pope partly rescind this new doctrine.


William applies his scientific knowledge to the examination of Berengar's corpse. He correctly concludes that the blackened fingers and tongue came from the same source, probably ink. Because Venantius's body bore identical signs, William concludes that both deaths are somehow related to the library. William uses deductive reasoning to help clarify the causation of events, but he instructs Adso about logical fallacies that yield false relationships and conclusions. Adso realizes that logic's "validity depended on the way it was employed," meaning it's not "a universal weapon" that always yields the truth.

That the charge of heresy is reserved for the poor becomes evident during the Minorites' meal. Michael of Cesena, a Franciscan, must defend his order against charges of heresy. Yet, the mealtime conversation reveals a heresy far greater than the Franciscan oath of poverty. The pope is said to want to drastically alter Catholic doctrine regarding the afterlife, a far more dangerous example of heresy than any Franciscan practice. This doctrinal bombshell would completely upend Church dogma. However, it will not likely be considered heresy because it comes from the pope himself. In the Catholic Church, there has long been a presumption in favor of the pope in matters of doctrinal dispute. This presumption was formalized as the doctrine of "papal infallibility" by the First Vatican Council of 1869–70, with the statement that the pope cannot be wrong when making statements about "faith and morals." Long before this official statement of the pope's infallibility in matters of Church doctrine, the idea that the pope had special authority in such matters was often put forward. Counterintuitively, given the context of Name of the Rose, Brian Tierney argues that a Franciscan priest, Pietro Olivi (1248–98), was the first to directly argue for the idea of papal infallibility.

The symbol of William's eyeglasses is introduced in a humorous way, as Severinus finds the lost pair and Nicholas has made a new pair. The symbol of eyeglasses may foreshadow William's greater ability to read and analyze secret texts, in stark contrast to the blindness of Name of the Roses's villain, Jorge of Burgos. With his eyeglasses, William can now read and translate the Greek text written on Venantius's parchment. The eyeglasses reveal these words, but the words, as signs, bring only confusion. To William, these strange words are probably taken from "sentences [Venantius] found in the book stolen from the finis Africae," now known to be the hidden room in the library. William's problem is that Venantius's writing "seem[s] like the words of a holy text, whose meaning goes beyond the letter." So the letters, words, and sentences are signs that most likely point to other signs, which may perhaps lead to meaning and to the secret book itself. Only when all signs are found and correctly interpreted can some semblance of truth be discovered.

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